Alcohol comes in many wonderful forms in Korea, but there’s nothing more Korean than soju! According to the Guardian, soju is now the most popular booze in the world! In honor of this crowning achievement we decided to film a video featuring soju in my favorite form…a juice box! Watch in wonder as we drink hard liquor with a cute pink straw.
Alcohol comes in many wonderful forms in Korea, but there’s nothing more Korean than soju! According to the Guardian, soju is now the most popular booze in the world! In honor of this crowning achievement we decided to film a video featuring soju in my favorite form…a juice box! Watch in wonder as we drink …View full post
We love trying out new snacks we see in stores in Korea. Most Koreans snacks are sweet, though, and I’m much more of a salty person. Also a lot of Korean snacks tend to be octopus/squid/shrimp flavored, which is just not something my palate is used to, haha. In the past year we’ve seen so …View full post
Since we arrived a little bit later on Saturday, we saved our hiking for Day 2! After a quick breakfast at Angel in us Coffee, we started our drive to nearby Odaesan National Park. We arrived at the southwest corner of the park in a place called Sogeumgang, or “little geumgang”, named after the famous …View full post
One of the biggest anxieties that I hear about from new or prospective teachers applying to EPIK is about the bathroom situation at public school! I hope these tips will help you calm some fears about using squat toilets, which you will most likely have to do if you work at public school! 1.) Find …View full post
October has been an incredibly busy month! I’ve planned it that way on purpose, because winter is quickly approaching and it gets so cold in Korea we rarely want to leave our apartment. Before we go into hibernation, I want to fit in as many trips and activities as possible. Also, Fall in Korea is …View full post
We love trying out new snacks we see in stores in Korea. Most Koreans snacks are sweet, though, and I’m much more of a salty person. Also a lot of Korean snacks tend to be octopus/squid/shrimp flavored, which is just not something my palate is used to, haha.
In the past year we’ve seen so many more western brands entering the korean market and making it on the shelves, although their presence is very inconsistent. (there one day, gone the next!) But there is also a lot of western brands being adopted with a Korean twist. We saw these chips and thought it was a great example of that! We’re all familiar with Pringles, but SEAWEED FLAVOR? No way would that go over well in America. Check out the video to see our reactions!! Would you try them? If so, do you think you’d like it?
Since we arrived a little bit later on Saturday, we saved our hiking for Day 2! After a quick breakfast at Angel in us Coffee, we started our drive to nearby Odaesan National Park. We arrived at the southwest corner of the park in a place called Sogeumgang, or “little geumgang”, named after the famous mountain in North Korea. The drive from the city was a beautiful one that reminded me of home. The mountains in Korea look very similar to the Appalachian mountains of the Eastern US where I grew up, and the winding roads through the valley transported me back to NC for a moment. I was soon brought back to Korea once I saw the road turn into a narrow unmarked trail lined with buddhist lanterns and eager hiking groups. To say hiking is a national pastime here is an understatement–it’s a lifestyle! The hiking group leaders wore flags in their backs, and the group members all wore matching hiking gear. Drinking goes hand in hand with hiking (naturally), and we definitely saw cups over-flowing before, during, and after the hike. Once we parked we continued on the road lined with makgeolli and pajeon places, the official food and drink of hiking in Korea. Just past the camping sites we caught our first glimpse of the river our trail would follow to Guryong Falls, our destination for the day.
What else is a backpack for? Carrying soju!
One of the pajeon places near the entrance of the trail
The beginning of our hike
We had beautiful weather just as we did the previous day, and it was a fantastic day for a hike. It was the very beginning of Fall and the air was on the verge of being crisp and sharp, and the leaves had just started changing color.
The reds and greens and in-betweens of early Fall
Not too far along the trail we came to the first of many bridges. Below it were happy picnicers atop scattered boulders in the river. We went off the trail to climb on the rocks and get some photos, when I notice a man motioning for me to come over to him and his group of friends. Once I get closer I hear the man say “come eat some chicken! Please help yourself!” in Korean so I quickly hop on over to their rock. I was immediately handed chopsticks, a paper cup, and shot of soju. They were super friendly, especially once they learned I was conversational in Korean! They asked about where I was from, how long I’ve lived in Korea, what I do, etc. Soon Evan and Zack joined too and they encouraged us to eat and drink more. We later joked that we thought they just ordered WAY too much chicken and asked the first person they saw to help them eat it! HA!
The group that invited us to eat chicken with them!
Group photo! (Thanks Zack)
But honestly, Korean people are hospitable and giving in any situation, but especially when they’re hiking. There is such a comraderie felt when tackling a trail together, and it does feel like one big family every time I go hiking here, which is a huge reason I love it. It’s difficult I think for an American like myself to feel that sense of “oneness” that permeates the Korean psyche, and often when I’m hiking it feels like I’m “let in” on it, on that feeling. Strangers passing by often say “hello” to you, and getting offered food or drink is not uncommon at all.
Maybe halfway through the trail we climbed some stone steps up to a temple for a short rest. A lot of people had the same idea, and rested in the shade, some drinking from the fresh spring fountain. The temple was gorgeous, there’s something about Fall colors that makes the traditional temple colors really stand out. That and I think this particular temple was painted recently.
The trail was easy going throughout, without any steep hills to speak of and plenty of beautiful places to stop and rest. It’s a very leisurely trail that anyone can do. The most memorable part of the trail by far is about a kilometer from Guryong Falls. After another bridge the trail opens up onto these giant slabs of rock that are leaning down towards the water below. As you can tell in the video, I was really impressed by the uniqueness and beauty of it. There are people everywhere having picnics on the rock, some daring more than other to sit close to the edge by the water. Some took naps in crevasses of the rock, and some acted like this was their final destination and continued drinking!
Being brave! (photo by Zack)
After hanging out here for awhile, we hiked the final kilometer to the Guryong Falls. It was even more crowded here, with everyone scrambling to take group photos in front of the waterfall. The water was ice cold, and I watched as families playfully put their feet in the stream. We did manage to get some photos in before rushing back the way we came down the trail, to the car, drive to the bus station and barely make our bus! (Thanks Zack for your awesome driving! haha)
Awesome photo in front of the waterfall, by Zack
Not that we needed more convincing, but after our amazing hike we were sure wanted to return to Gangneung. We had an awesome weekend in a great city, with good company and perfect weather, and we need more of that in our future. Thanks again Zack for showing us around! Now it’s your turn to visit fair Yangsan!
See all of our photos from our weekend in Gangneung on our Flicker!
Until next time!
One of the biggest anxieties that I hear about from new or prospective teachers applying to EPIK is about the bathroom situation at public school! I hope these tips will help you calm some fears about using squat toilets, which you will most likely have to do if you work at public school!
1.) Find the 교무실 (the teacher’s room) in your school, and look for the bathroom nearby. That bathroom will usually have toilet paper and soap!
2.) Keep soap, hand sanitizer, and tissue in your desk. I would keep tissue in your bag/purse whereever you go, but keep an extra set of tissues just for school!
3.) Depending on your office situation, teachers may chip in to buy office supplies, snacks, coffee, and tissue. Ask your co-teacher or officemate about the system they use. But I’d go ahead and bring everything you need and keep it in your desk just in case! Ask your co-teacher if they have a system or if you should donate some money to buy tissue for the office.
4.) Face the porcelain part of the toilet that sticks up, and place your feet near the top! Watch the video to see what I’m talking about.
5.) Don’t flush the paper! Use a little more paper than usual and use it to wrap the paper that you use to wipe. If you do flush the paper the toilet will easily clog, and you may get asked about it by the maintenance guy at your school!
October has been an incredibly busy month! I’ve planned it that way on purpose, because winter is quickly approaching and it gets so cold in Korea we rarely want to leave our apartment. Before we go into hibernation, I want to fit in as many trips and activities as possible. Also, Fall in Korea is GORGEOUS and fleeting. I want to soak up as much good weather and nature as possible before the cold, dark, long winter.
Anyways, this weekend we made our way up to Gangwon-do province to visit our friend Zack, whom you may know as Scroozle from the blog Crimson North. If not, definitely check it out! He’s been living in Gangneung for the past couple years, and I’ve only heard good things about it. Our friend Charly also lived in the city and loved it there too! It was past time for us to visit. We hadn’t been to the province since our first year, and even though it was the very beginning of Fall, it was gorgeous and we couldn’t have asked for better weather.
Because of Friday evening obligations, we didn’t leave Yangsan until early Saturday morning. We arrived in Gangneung at 2 and hopped in a Kia Ray rented by Zack and set off together. We ate some kimbap quickly and Zack showed us where his old apartment is, the university, and where a lot of the night life happens. That area had a similar feel to our neighborhood actually, with grid like streets and short buildings on stilts.
Our next stop was GyeongpoDae 경포대, a look out point on a hill over Gyeongpo Lake. There is a big pavilion at the top where families and couples were relaxing and enjoying the view. There is also a war memorial, and plenty of grass prime for picnicking. Fresh, green grass isn’t as plentiful in Korea as it is back home, so we eagerly sat down for a bit and enjoyed it. (WITHOUT A MAT! OH NO!^^)
Pavilion at Gyeongpodae
Around the lake is a nice tree-lined path, with many people walking and riding rented tandem bikes or buggys. From pictures I’ve seen from Zack, I’d love to come back here during cherry blossom season! The area was so nice and well-kept. Zack also pointed out some construction and one completed building that will be used for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics 2018!
After our short rest at Gyeongpodae we went down the road to Gyeongpo Beach. I was surprised with how big, clean and beautiful it looked! It felt like a beach back home, and I honestly prefer it to any beach I’ve been to in Busan. While the Gwanganli bridge is gorgeous, it still feels a bit claustrophobic. I felt the same freedom and peace that comes with wide open spaces and ocean air. From what Zack told us, the beaches are close to empty compared with Busan beaches, and in my opinion a lot nicer! Definitely an underrated beach destination, where I intend on going next summer!
Next we went to a famous and important historical site, the birthplace and former home of Yulgok Yi Yi and his mother Shinsaimdong. Ojukheon as it’s called, is named for a rare black bamboo that was growing on the grounds. Really unique thing to see!
As we mention in the video, modern Korea’s neoconfucianism came from Yi Yi’s writings, and his mother Shinsaimdong is considered to be the mother of Korea and the model Korean woman. Both of them are featured on Korean won, so naturally there are photo ops that we had to take advantage of.
The new mother of Korea!
Evan as a grumpy Yulgok Yi Yi
The complex, complete with beautiful gardens, a 600 year old tree, and a museum was also the landscape for a famous scene in a drama. None of us were sure which, but the place was marked on the ground of where you are to stand to get the exact shot from the show! haha people take their dramas so seriously here. We took our time walking around, admiring the first signs of Fall.
After the sun set we made our way to a pumpkin duck restaurant just on the edge of town. We were all starving and thought we’d have to wait an hour since we didn’t call ahead, but they brought out our pumpkin full of duck in about 20 minutes!! It was delicious as always.
The wonderful feast
Watch the video to see more, and stay tuned for Day 2 of our weekend in Gangneung!